Irma pounds central Florida, leaves trail of destruction

LAKELAND, FLORIDA, UNITED STATES (SEPTEMBER 11, 2017) (NBC) — Hurricane Irma pounded heavily populated areas of central Florida on Monday (September 11) as it carved through the state with high winds, storm surges and torrential rains that left millions without power, ripped roofs off homes and flooded city streets.

Irma, once ranked as one of the most powerful hurricanes recorded in the Atlantic, came ashore in Florida on Sunday and battered towns as it worked its way up the state.

The storm gradually lost strength, weakening to a Category 1 hurricane by 2 a.m. ET (0600 GMT) on Monday, the National Hurricane Center said. By 5 a.m. ET (0900 GMT), Irma was churning northwest in the center of the state and was about 60 miles (100 km) north of Tampa, with maximum sustained winds of near 75 miles per hour (120 km per hour.)

A large area of the state’s east and west coasts remained vulnerable to storm surges, when hurricanes push ocean water dangerously over normal levels. That risk extended to the coast of Georgia and parts of South Carolina